The Sevenfold Yes
The Sevenfold Yes: Affirming the Goodness of our Deepest Desires
by Willi Lambert, SJ
Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2005
Reviewed by Sr. Rosa Lynn M. Doromal, DC
From the first glance at the title, The Sevenfold Yes: Affirming the Goodness of our Deepest Desires spoke to my heart. As I read, I was surprised to discover that it is, in fact, an interpretation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola written in the light of our contemporary times.
I find it refreshing to view the spiritual exercises as a way of affirming the goodness of our deepest desires. This contemporary interpretation helps to make the spiritual exercises relevant to the people of our time. Amidst countless choices confronting and stifling the core of our beings, the spiritual exercises remain a powerful tool to set our hearts free and affirm our innate goodness and worthiness.
Willi Lambert presents the Spiritual Exercises as a way of becoming fully human as we go through the cycles of life. When we say yes to our desires, we decide to live our life to the full—in the way of the gospel, in the way of the Spiritual Exercises.
Lambert claims that every human being has a deep longing to say yes. Yes to a deeper way of loving, yes to a meaningful life rooted in God, yes to reconciliation and peace, yes to a love that can stand the test of pain and struggle, yes to a liberating love, and yes to the “mysticism of everyday life” (p.13). This longing, this yearning for something more in life is what Ignatius refers to as the magis, the “driving force in the lives of people of every age” (p.28).
Lambert believes the Spiritual Exercises address the deepest desires of the human heart. They offer a way of affirming and fulfilling desire. Each chapter of the book begins with a discussion of yes to a human desire in the light of our present context, the call of the gospel, and the signs of the times. Through exercises and reflection questions, we are led further to find the significance within our own personal lives. I believe any person who directs retreats using the spiritual exercises will find this book valuable. He or she will be enriched with a relevant understanding of the spiritual exercises and implications for spiritual practices. Likewise, this resource could be a practical guide for those who have already worked through the spiritual exercises, or simply want to deepen their spiritual life without intending to go on a retreat. Lambert offers this book to “serve as a guide for the retreatant and a commentary for the spiritual director” (p.8).
Be it a practical guide or a primer on spiritual life, The Sevenfold Yes: Affirming the Goodness of our Deepest Desires is simple and easy to read. Its anthropological and incarnational approach reaches beyond the boundaries of faith, culture, or race. This book is delightful to read.
Rosa Lynn M. Doromal, DC, lives in the Philippines and is a member of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul. As spiritual companion and retreat facilitator, she ministers to her sisters in community, to the laity, and to persons who are extremely poor.